Re: childcare
From: PattyMara (
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 16:44:17 -0500
In a message dated 98-06-05 14:19:31 EDT, NKaten947 [at] writes:

 <<Also what are some of the ritual, welcoming things that groups do for new

At Tierra Nueva Cohousing on the central California coast near San Luis
Obispo, we've been together so long (nearly 10 years) that we've had lots of
practice welcoming new members.  Our celebrations include passing on to the
new member(s) our totem sculpture that was started years ago with a piece of
driftwood found at a community campout at the beach.  We used our son's
bubblegum to stick on a piece of jade for an eye, and dubbed it our coho
salmon and gave it to the new member during the welcoming ceremony to hold
onto for a while, then add something meaningful before passing it along to the
next new member(s).  So now, it is a piece of original art with many wrappings
and dangling attachments, an avocado wood base, another piece of driftwood
balancing perfectly on top, and extraordinary character which has built up
over the years of contributions.

At the welcoming circle, we generally do an appreciation round for the
newcomer, and offer tidbits of stories or anecdotes, or a song or two,
sometimes a joke, and always food.  Before eating the feast we pass around a
ball of yarn and each person winds it around their wrist once or twice then
passes it along until the entire circle is connected with the yarn, the
symbolism being obvious.  Then we break the yarn between each other and help
one another tie it onto our wrists as a momento of the welcoming.  Then we
each wear our yarn bracelets for a little while as a gesture of remembrance of
the new member.  Some of these bracelets can be seen tied onto trees on our
site, and more than a few went into the foundation concrete of the homes.  

Each celebration is tailored to the new member(s), and they get better and
better with time.  Sometimes when more than one household has joined in a
short period of time we do combination welcomings, and those have been
wonderful too.  

It is so very important to celebrate at every opportunity.  Welcoming each new
household creates a bond that is never forgotten.  When a family first joins,
especially those who live a distance away, we pass around a large card at the
next business meeting and everyone signs it with a short note, decorate the
envelope with colorful art, then send it off to the new family.  Over and over
again these welcome cards have proven to be one of the most endearing gestures
of celebration.  I highly recommend it.  It begins the process of knitting
together.  The welcoming party usually takes a few months to happen, so that
first card offers a potent opening of the circle to include the new members.

Patty Mara Gourley
Tierra Nueva Cohousing, San Luis Obispo County, CA
Where the common house's color coat of stucco is glowing warmly in the spring
sunshine, and the construction of the houses is progressing rapidly toward a
late summer move-in.    5 homes remain to be sold, 5 more welcoming
celebrations await.

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